Owensboro lost a legend today when Jack Hicks passed away at his home this morning. Many of us remember him as the manager of the Sportscenter or as a teacher and Athletic Director at Owensboro High School, but thousands of players remember him as a baseball coach.
“His whole life was coaching,” said 102.7 The Game personality Steve Baker. “He loved it and he lived it.”
Hicks coached baseball at Owensboro High School for 22 seasons (1957-78) with a winning percentage of .756 (606-196) and won four state championships – in 1964, 1969, 1976 and 1977. His OHS teams also accumulated 20 district championships and 15 regional titles. His coaching accomplishments earned him a spot in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1993, who recognized him for “courage, perseverance and dedication” at his induction.
According to his James H. Davis obituary, Jack was instrumental in starting Little League baseball here in Owensboro in 1952 and coached the first team to a state championship that same year.
“To spend a summer with Jack, you grew up fast,” Baker recalled. “He taught you more than just the game. He taught you discipline, how to give it 100% in everything, and he taught you how to win. But if you made a mistake he told you about it and he would teach you how not to make that same mistake again. He could be forceful and direct, but the players loved him.”
Jack was also remembered as a great storyteller. Those around him marveled at Jack’s photographic memory and commented about how he could talk about games that happened 40 years ago and still remember exact details about the players and stats like they were yesterday.
“How many of us have met a legend?” asked Steve Snedeker, one of Hick’s former OHS players, on his blogpost. “Jack’s essential character not only produced fabulously talented ball players, but he also shepherded young men through their high school years focusing on the discipline required to play as a team and to maximize potentials… He was, and is, a giant of a man.”
This giant will be very appropriately remembered with A Celebration of Life Thursday at 6pm in the Owensboro High School gymnasium. Visitation will be Wednesday from 4-6pm and Thursday after 4pm, also in the gym.